By Salvador G. Eduarte, Jr.*
The disaster brought about by Tropical Storm Washi is unprecedented.
Many lives were devastated and forever changed by the disaster that
struck the people of Mindanao, a southern island of the Philippines,
last month. Many people are still missing, and hundreds of corpses are
discovered daily during search operations. The death toll has risen to
1,257, and the number of missing to 173. Damages to property and
farmlands are estimated at almost PhP 1.5 billion (more than US $34
An Islamic community about 11 miles from the city of Iligan was swept
away by Washi, also called Typhoon Sendong. The community in Iligan
comprises four barangays, or municipalities, namely, Mandulog,
Kalilangan, Lanipao, and Dulag. Maik Sultan, a 55-year-old chieftain
from Kalilangan, tearfully recalled the events of that fatal night of
December 16, 2011.
He said that many of the people living near the river and in nearby
communities were drowned by floodwaters. About 17 died and many others
are still missing. Still others were able to survive the onslaught of
Sendong by swimming away or climbing onto rooftops. Corn and other
crops that provide a livelihood to many in the community also were
destroyed. Schools were washed out by floodwaters seven feet high and
two and a half acres in diameter.
According to Maik, organizations have responded and provided food and
non-food items to the community, though more help is needed. “We are
still in need of food donations and are appealing to those who have
generous hearts to help us rebuild our lives and our communities,” he
The Islamic community in Iligan is one of the communities being
organized by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). UMCOR is
responding to typhoon-affected areas in Cagayan De Oro and Iligan, in
partnership with RMP and BALSA Mindanao.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, in collaboration with
Panda Bulig, a disaster-response NGO, founded BALSA Mindanao, a
citizen-led response to the immense humanitarian crisis brought about by
Typhoon Sendong. The components of BALSA Mindanao relief missions
include food, medical assistance, psychosocial relief, documentation,
You can help UMCOR provide assistance to survivors of Typhoon Sendong by giving to Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235.
*Salvador G. Eduarte, Jr., is a professor at Philippine Christian University and an UMCOR volunteer in the Philippines.